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Life Rafts

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Hi Dustin,


Pilots on the photo are from the Brasilian Air Force. The Brazilian pilots initially flew from 31 October 1944, as individual elements of flights attached to 350th FG squadrons, at first in affiliation flights and progressively taking part in more dangerous missions. Less than two weeks later, on November 11, the group started its own operations flying from its base at Tarqunia, Italy, using its tactical callsign Jambock. Brazilian Air Force stars replaced the white U.S. star in the roundel on the FAB Thunderbolts.






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Hey Mathieu, first this is my favorite subject and I studied pararafts for years so know them well. The subject of the pararaft gets complicated and slightly confusing very quick all by itself making it a bit tough to sum it up but I will try and cliff note it. The AAF was essentially forced to adopt the navy designed one man raft by a joint Army/Navy/British board. Prior to manufacture the AAF made revisions across the board in almost every aspect of its design, the out come was the no slotted case. At this time the specification was AN-R-2 drawing AN-6520. The AAF ordered their raft units deviating from specification and also submitted all the revisions to the AN Board requesting an amendment. Soon after the navy also submitted their revision list to the AN Board and after review concepts from both services were accepted and included into Amendment A to include the new case with forward slot for leg straps. This amendment did not take effect till Jan. 1943. The AAF and BuAer awarded contracts in 1942 but production was very slow plagued with delays. In the case of the AAF no slotted case the contracts which were awarded in 1942 were allowed to run its coarse until the contracts were completed approx. May 1943. The bulk of the contracts were manufactured and delivered in the calendar year 1943 and also complied with spec AN-R-2A (AN-6520-1). The AAF had no problem with these cases finding it unnecessary to switch production to the slotted types on these contracts. . All contracts awarded after Jan. 1943 complied completely utilizing the slotted case. By April 1943 both the non-slotted and slotted types were on the production line, one can view it as a transitional period. Also up till about this time all the pararafts delivered were the non-slotted type which is why they are so hard to find today as they were consumed very quickly by the combat theatres. Markings on cases vary some what for example my non-slotted case is marked AN-R-2A and is dated January 1943. I have not observed a 1942 dated example so I cannot say how they are marked and don't really expect to see one as only about 1,000 were delivered in 1942. It should also be noted that in the eyes of the AAF though not official by the AN Board their raft was the AN-R-2A making it very likely that the rafts were marked AN-R-2A or AN-6520-1 in the 1942 production.

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  • 8 months later...

Hello Dustin,

I have a couple of AN-R-2a rafts and cases, however none of them is 100% complete. There is usually missing first aid kit, which I have no clue, how it should looks like. I can not find any reference about it.


Can you share list of its content, please? Or can you share photo of it, if it was some special container?




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Hello Mirek, You have a variety to choose from. The USAAF primarily utilized the parachute first aid packet in their one man life rafts. Originally they included the zippered model in the initial production, non-slotted types. For a short stretch they did include the US Navy first aid kit for pneumatic life rafts but it was found to have many flaws due to its packaging method. By the summer of 1943 it was standard to supply the parachute first aid packet in all production one man rafts. Due to its limited medical provisions it was not at all uncommon to replace it with the RAF first aid outfit Type.3 aircraft dinghy in the ETO.

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Thanks Mirek, It looks like the top right is a US Rubber AC-390 contract ? The two Hoods you have are AC-393. These are part of the last series of contracts the USAAF awarded for the complete assemblies of the AN series. To go back to your original question it is 100% definitive that the parachute first aid packet would have been included in those contract kits as part of the original assembly.

I see you have one raft with the other two having partial components?

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you are right about the contracts. As for their completeness, the AC-390 is empty, one Hood contains raft second one has complete accessories. C-2 is (was) complete too, however I was too curious and pulled the raft out. Quite bitter lesson, can not get it back...

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The rafts have to be folded very tight and even. A deflator pump should be used, if not once folded it will be a bit billowy. Raft packing has a zero tolerance. Due to the age I typically suggest never to try and refold and place back into the case.

If you want to attempt to put your C-2 back try this series of illsutrations.







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  • 6 months later...

And here attached to the seat parachute as showed in the wartime photo




Thank you for the document and the photo.


A+ Mathieu

So how exactly is that attached- is it just a matter of passing the straps through the slot and it sits there "floating"?

<p>Collecting USAAF and WW2 US items- currently seeking USN Model A or PK-1 Pararaft container



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